A little late to tell you about our travel to the Philippines. No excuses, I’m just being lazy to write on my blog.
We were extremely happy to make it to the Philippines and meet up with so many friends. I wasn’t thinking to be able to fulfill my duty as a man of honour for my best friend wedding but yeah we made it! It was quite hard to make this post short and to only select few photos. Make sure you have a look at our album for more great shots.
I moved all my belonging into my office and we left Brisbane on April 9th with Singapore Airlines for a quite long flight (11hour) to Singapore and then Manila. We landed in Manila in the evening and we went to our hotel in Makati suburb. I was expecting it but I accepted to get screw by the cab driver to reach our destination (700 pesos instead of 250 for the normal rate). Our driver was kind at least and he let us know that we were in the red light district of Manila. Fair enough. We went out around wandering the street of Makati where I could quickly get the feeling that I was in Asia again when we decided to check out a midget oil wresting show… Quite funny.
Philippe, Mike and Ricardo came in during the night. The next day, we went around exploring more about Manila suburb and meet up with Angeli and her sister. We rushed to go and catch the sunset at Manila bay before heading back to the city for another night out in the wild.
The city in itself isn’t much different from other big Asia mega-city. Huge, crowded, polluted, warm. with extremes between poor and rich. Big modern skyscrapers mixing with very poor houses and people trying to make a living out of nothing. Two interesting differences with other Asian cities, first the Philippines were occupied by the Spanish for over 400 years and then the American for few decades. Therefore, you can find a stronger influence of an Occidental culture inside their own culture. English is more widely spoken than in other Asian country and Christianity is the main religion. However, I found that the Philippines isn’t the first touristic destination for people who want to discover Asia. Thus making it much more authentic than Thailand.
We took our flight to Laoag the next day for our first real holiday location. We met up with few others friend at the airport. Arrived at Laoag we took a Jepney to reach our resort (Kapuluan) near Pagudpud. A 3 hours ride that was at first enjoyable but quickly turned to be endless going at 40km/h and with all the black smoke coming out from the exhaust. Nonetheless, the place was nice but isolated. A good thing we were a bunch of friends taking over the place.
The following days we went around exploring the area rice paddies, waterfalls, very nice beaches, small villages and practicing Karaoke at night. Angeli’s family were taking good care of us handling all the trouble of the logistic of moving over 15 people from places to places. Thanks to lack of regulations, we could enjoy the freedom of so many rides siting at the back of a pickup truck.
We had the chance to get a trip to a remote village called ‘Adams’ organize for us by the manager at Panzian resort (where the wedding happened). We were welcomed by the mayor, the local police and the locals. The trip was amazing. First, we went for a 2 hours trek in the mountains up to a huge waterfall were we could jump and swim. After this beautiful trek, we were welcome for an exotic lunch in the local village. We ate, among other, frogs and a famous local dish, the ant rice. After the delicious lunch, we could meet up with the local, see a parade, be part of the local fiesta, visit wineries where we could enjoy the “Bugnay”, a type of wine made of local fruits at have a dinner at the mayor office. Pretty cool day! Way above expectations! We didn’t even mind too much the long way back and the trucking breaking up at night in the jungle. Not either crossing extremely small bridges barely fitting the size of our big truck.
Few more friends came in for the very special day on April 15th. We were then around 25. After doing some yoga, we spend the day playing rock star being followed by professional photographers. The site set up at Panzian was fantastic. The day was amazing especially at the time of the wedding. At some point we all though it was going to rain but it is exactly when Angeli arrived at the wedding stage that the sun came out from the clouds over the mountains making the whole scene completely phenomenal. To add up, some local curious kids were watching the event smiling, playing. This couldn’t have been better and this will be forever written in memories. We had a delicious diner and then I had to do my weeding speech. I was a little stressed out because I completed it on the same day but I believe it went okay. The party following up on the beach was also a lot of fun. We lighted up some lanterns, put some good music and partied all night. We came back sitting 13 people at the back of the pickup for a 20 min ride watching stars and holding tight! Amazing.
Be sure to check out this amazing video of the day. The guys who make this did a incredible job. They could complete the video on the same day to display it on the screen just after dinner time.
We went back to Laoag for our flight to Manila the day afterward. The flight was delayed by 3 hours and arrived late in Manila. All cramped up and after passing by a dead motorbike driver on the heavily busy streets, we had to let Angeli fight with the taxi driver to get us the fare he promised us from the airport because his price suddenly went up 10x. Always like that…
The next day was the beginning of the second part of our travel on Palawan island. There is very few times that you like your flight to be delayed but this time we were late at the airport jammed in traffic so we were quite lucky to catch our flight to Puerto Princesa. We went out for an island hopping trip to Honda Bay with a part of the crew that didn`t went straight away to El Nido. The trip was fun, we could snorkel around few island, walk on the beaches and enjoy the amazing scenery. On the way back, we passed by a huge crowd of catholic Filipinos walking from Puerto Princesa to another village 80km away as part of Easter festivities. We spend the night at Kookaburra travel lodge in Puerto Princesa. It was pouring rain and electricity ran out a couple of times while we were having diner.
The next day we took our 11 passengers van to travel up to El-Nido 5 hours away. The ride was long and tiring going through the mountains and a 2 hours dirt road through small villages on a scorching hot day. We stopped for lunch at a local village place and few people got sick from that place, but my stomach survived once again. We finally got to amazing El Nido in the middle of the afternoon. The place is absolutely stunning.
El Nido was a beautiful place and rather quiet. A good luck we were again a good crew of friends over there (15-20). We went out for few really amazing island hopping trip. We did snorkeling, sun bathing, enjoying boat ride, swimming in the turquoise crystal clear water and exploring caves and beautiful beaches, especially at sunset. We stayed at Entalula and everything was just great. We went out few times at night rocking on that small place.
We got back to Puerto Princesa after the same long van ride. We stopped by the old spanish Fort Santiago in Taytay before we took our flight back to Manila. We spend again an extra day in Manila with Angeli’s family which were just so welcoming and friendly people. We went on the last day out for some cheap shopping and eating. We head back to Brisbane on April 24th with full of souvenirs. It was good to met up again with many of my friends from Vancouver and Quebec especially since I`m here in Australia with little contact with most of them. Looking forward to repeat this kind of experience again for sure.
Pascal & Gabriela